"But nothing has changed?"

Over the last few years a horse owner noticed their horse was a little stiff on a certain rein, a little tender on a certain surface, a little more hesitant approaching the jump. But nothing gets said, its just a thought in the back of their mind, the horse is fine at the next ride so they forget all about it for a while. Then, one day, he starts refusing to canter. He's clearly lame on hard ground. He has started to refuse showjumps. And they ask me what I did different at the last visit. "Nothing, but now that you've told me there is a problem, maybe we can do something for him. Can we get a vet involved and maybe some xrays and see if something has changed?"

"But nothing has changed" they say, misunderstanding. "He's been on this same popular feed for the last 10 years. I always buy my neighbours hay. Its the same arena surface he's always worked on. It has to be how he's getting his feet done, cause nothing has changed"

The thing is, something HAS changed. Something is always changing. Time is passing. So maybe we needed to change the way we (us, or you, or BOTH!) were doing something in response.

You see, I've been blessed to have had some horses on my books for their whole teen to senior life. One day, when I've been at this a little longer still, maybe I can say I've seen a few horses their ENTIRE life. I have been blessed to be fortunate enough to give many horses their last trim so they have fresh feet to cross the rainbow bridge. Some of them I knew would be the last time, some of them I suspected, some we kept saying "could be the last time" for 7 years, and some of them were a complete surprise. But working on the same horses for many consecutive years is a real privilege, and an amazing teacher.

10 years ago, maybe your horse wasn't insulin resistant and that popular feed was fine for him, but as he's gotten older his metabolism has changed. Now he's prone to low-grade laminitis. 10 years ago his joints had less wear, and now he's powered up the grades with you and his knees and hocks can tell the tale. He swivels when he walks now and it always wears down his inside heels. 10 years ago maybe his pedal osteitis was sub-clinical - an xray might have shown it, but you didn't think the sensitivity was worth investigating at the time. Now, he has clear clinical changes and needs pads when he's shod. 10 years ago maybe his back didn't hurt, now he has low back pain and standing camped under is crushing his heels, his low heels are now making his back pain worse. Your farrier suggested different shoes before and gave you the name of a body worker, but you thought he was fine enough so you couldn't justify the extra expense.

Things are always changing with our horses, because time is always passing. The more we can keep an open dialogue about it and employ a team approach, the more chance we have of catching things before they start causing serious issues. ⏱
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